It’s hard to imagine a more satisfying meal than lasagna. The classic Italian-American casserole features layers of tender noodles, a robust sauce, savory meat, and soft, stretchy cheese. And since the variations are endless – from a flaming noodle casserole with spicy sausage, to lasagna made with heaps of veggies – this iconic dish appeals to meat and veggie lovers alike.
The only downside to lasagna is the long preparation time. Even if you’re using no-boil (oven-ready) pasta, building lasagna from scratch requires several steps, from making a sauce to combining cheeses and layering all the components in a dish ranging in the oven.
Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could enjoy comforting flavors without the hassle and long cooking times?
That’s the question that led me to create Skillet Lasagna, which is ready in about 30 minutes with just one pan to clean.
All the elements of the traditional dish are there, just a tad deconstructed. Once you try it, you may never go back to the baked version again.
What type of pasta works best in a skillet lasagna?
I prefer to use regular lasagna noodles in this recipe because they soften over time while absorbing all the flavors of the meat sauce. And I love the ruffled edge lasagna noodles for decorative presentation.
That said, you can swap out non-boil (oven ready) lasagna noodles if you like. No-cook noodles are smaller and thinner, so you’ll need to add more. Allow about 10 oz. When using no-cook lasagna noodles, reduce cooking time to 10 minutes and stir often as they tend to clump together.
For a gluten-free meal, choose gluten-free lasagna noodles.
No lasagna noodles in the pantry? No problem, any shape of dough works. Including egg noodles. Just check the cooking time on the package and adjust it accordingly. Just note that cooking the pasta in sauce will likely add a few minutes to the cooking time.
One last tip: Wrap your dry lasagna noodles in a clean tea towel before breaking them into smaller pieces. This prevents the noodles from flying everywhere.
What is the best cheese for lasagna?
As for the cheese, use fresh whole milk ricotta cheese. Fresh ricotta is ideal because it is firm, chewy, slightly sweet, and a bit grainier than processed ricotta.
The characteristics of fresh ricotta pair perfectly with the tangy sauce and creamy mozzarella. Fresh ricotta cheese is usually sold alongside other fresh and specialty cheeses at the grocery store. When using fresh ricotta, drain any liquid before using.
Variants of meat and vegetarian lasagna
If desired, you can substitute the ground beef with your favorite mild or spicy sausage. Ground chicken and ground turkey also work for a lighter variation.
For a vegetarian version, replace the ground beef with 10 ounces steamed or sautéed baby spinach. Add the spinach to the pan when you add the noodles. You can also add other vegetables, such as steamed carrots and zucchini.
How to Add More Flavor to Lasagna
Use beef broth instead of water when making lasagna. The noodles absorb the flavor of the sauce during cooking, so the more flavor in the sauce, the more flavor in the noodles.
If using ground chicken or ground turkey, use chicken broth. If you are making vegetarian lasagna, use vegetable broth.
Fresh basil adds a touch of freshness and texture. Add it just before serving.
For a fiery kick, serve your skillet lasagna with crushed red pepper flakes.
Recipe: How to make easy skillet lasagna
When making skillet lasagna, use a large skillet (preferably 10-12 inches in diameter) with a tight-fitting lid so you have plenty of room to work. To complete the meal, serve with a green salad or steamed vegetables and warm, crusty Italian bread or breadsticks. Store leftover lasagna in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat the lasagna in a skillet over medium-low heat, adding more sauce or broth if needed.
Makes: 4 servings
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and diced
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 jar marinara sauce of your choice, 24-27 ounces
- 1 cup beef broth or water, plus more if needed
- 8 ounces uncooked lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces), divided
- ½ cup ricotta cheese, preferably fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
- Fresh basil leaves, to serve
- Grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving, optional
- Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook, 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. If necessary, drain the fat from the pan. Add Italian seasoning, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute, until the herbs are fragrant.
- Add marinara sauce and broth and bring to a simmer. Add the broken lasagna noodles and toss to evenly coat the noodles with the sauce.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the noodles are tender, stirring every few minutes. The sauce should simmer, not boil quickly. If necessary, add a little broth to keep the sauce thick and simmering.
- Stir in half (½ cup) of the mozzarella cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. Sprinkle the top with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Spoon dollops of ricotta cheese on top. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
- Let stand 3 to 5 minutes, until the mozzarella cheese melts. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve with grated parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes on the side.
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